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Thursday, 12 December, 2002, 06:44 GMT
Racing's growing wealth gap
Sheikh Mohammed is a key player in British racing
Sheikh Mohammed is a key player in British racing

Sheikh Mohammed, the man behind the famous Godolphin stable, has made an impassioned plea to British racecourses to increase the prize money they offer.

Racing is a multi-million-pound industry in the UK, but there is widespread concern that the sport's wealth is not being fairly distributed.

Sheikh Mohammed's plea has highlighted the growing rift developing between the racecourses and the rest of the sport over prize money.

How prize money is divided
80% - owner
10% - jockey
10% - trainer

Prize money is the lifeblood of the racing industry and the livelihoods of tens of thousands of people depend on it.

Currently, each of Britain's 59 racecourses decides how much it wishes to make available as prize money.

For several years Britain's racing community has complained that the racecourses are not distributing enough of their TV money.

In 2002, British racecourses earned 46m from media deals, but only 5m was distributed as prize money - a mere 11%.

In an attempt to increase the money on offer, the sport's governing body, the British Horseracing Board (BHB), unveiled its Future Funding Plan earlier this year.

It recommended that 40% of any money earned by racecourses through media deals should be distributed as prize money.

But, perhaps unsurprisingly, the Racecourse Association - the body that represents Britain's 59 racecourses - rejected the proposal.

The BHB's response was to announce a plan to raise minimum prize money in 2003 by 18m.

This is expected to take the total prize money for next year to 100m.

Minimum prize money
2003:
Top tier: 200,000
Bottom tier: 4,000

2002:
Top tier: 135,000
Bottom tier: 2,550

But despite the increase in winnings, there is ongoing concern that this money does not find its way to the grass roots.

The trainer of a winning horse currently receives about 10% of any prize money, with the rest divided amomg other parties, including the horse's owner and jockey.

Enormous costs

Trainers depend on prize money to survive, as training fees barely cover their enormous expenditure.

In 2001, prize money covered just 23% of their training costs - the lowest return among major racing nations.

The minimum wage for Grade A stable staff is just 223 per week
The minimum wage for top stable staff is 223pw

Of course, with lower prize money comes lower wages, and those worst affected are the stable staff.

The minimum wage for Grade A stable staff is 223 per week, a situation Sheik Mohammed described as "immoral".

He said: "The truth is that underpaid staff are subsidising the sport in exactly the same way as owners are. This is just not acceptable."

So how can the situation be remedied?

Rupert Arnold, chief executive of the National Trainers' Federation, agrees that fairer distribution of finances at every level of racing is essential.

"Prize money is the lifeblood of the sport," Arnold told BBC Sport Online. "When prize money goes up, everyone benefits.

"We also want a fair distribution of prize money so that everyone who's involved in the industry from grass roots all the way up to the top owners gets their just reward.

"There is more money coming into racing through media rights deals now. We would like to see that money shared in an equitable way."


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10 Dec 02 | Horse Racing
22 Nov 02 | Horse Racing
14 Oct 02 | Horse Racing
08 Dec 00 | Other Sports
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